Dan Deacon

Nowadays busy bee Dan Deacon plays on and off with a whole ensemble, he’s made a filmscore for a Francis Ford Coppola film and just released his newest album America on Domino. The electronic wizard spoke of the relevance of the audience, holograms and the expiration date of raw milk. Don’t be surprised if you leave a Dan Deacon show with a milk moustache. One that doesn’t come off.


Interview by Brenda Bosma, photos shot on film by Andrew Laumann in Baltimore, USA

The phrase ‘pasta poo time’ stuck with me after watching your new video for ‘True Thrush’. Is junk food important to you?

That was just from making the video. But no, I eat healthy nowadays, though I love your ‘hagelslag’!

You can give your audience a celebratory shower of sprinkles next time you’re here! Of course that won’t work if the audience stands there with their arms crossed. About that. Is the audience the secret chord on your keyboard or more like a rice grain in a percussion egg?

They aren’t like any other instrument. The success of the performance is just as rooted in the audience as it is in the performers. A band can perform amazingly, but if the audience is terrible the show will be terrible and vice versa. I like to interact with the audience and set up situations that couldn’t exist without one. I like to focus on what the performance is about and put that inside of the audience so they become spectator, participant and creator. Having that influence, and then seeing the audience react, that’s the biggest reward.

And what’s the gift you are unwrapping? It’s not just plain fun is it?

I think the goal is to make people feel without inhibition. When they don’t, nothing would be embarrassing. Also I like to bounce back and forth between the individual and the collective and show how both of those things are important.

Like grand gestures of warmth, maybe even love?

Both those things are cool with me.

It’s as if you’re a TV presenter of a game show or a magician creating experiences. Does this insult you?

No, it’s an unusual show, of course people are gonna perceive it in a wide variety of ways. There’s no wrong way.

Why is audience participation so important to you? 

I just like it. It’s fun. If you have a room full of people and you get a chance to create a situation that would otherwise never exist, it would be foolish not to do it.

Are you a pleaser?

Well, ultimately I’m an entertainer, I’m in show business. If you don’t care what other people think, why are you playing for other people? To counter that, I’m not making music to try to satisfy people’s checklist, but I am happy when people like what I do. Sometimes people tell me my music is comforting and helps them to get through.
Not only an entertainer, but also a healer!

I do occasionally burn some white sage before a show to rid the venue of bad energy.

Will you ever bend spoons during a show?

That never works when I practice it at home.

Hypnotise people?

That’s just so fucking creepy.

What do you think of holograms?

I bought a hologram of an owl in Amsterdam once!

They can do tricks with their head.

I’m sure they think we are creepy.

Will you ever use a hologram in your show?

I don’t think I’d force a dead person to perform with me.

No duet with Biggie?

I’d rather project a volcano erupting in the back.

But vulcanoes don’t rap.

That’s okay. I play a lot of Biggie on my iTunes, especially ‘Hypnotize’, but it’s dwarved by the song ‘Tequila’ by the Champs which I must have kept on repeat one day for ages. 1210 plays?!

What’s your top played album?

‘Harvest’ by Neil Young. Timeless.

If you were a carton of milk what would be the expiration date?

I wouldn’t be in a carton. I’d be raw milk in a bottle, highly perishable, but also extra nice and creamy. Just how I like it.

Marlon Brando says in Apocalypse Now: ‘You’re an errand boy, sent by grocery clerks, to collect a bill.’ Who are these clerks do you think?

I hope I don’t have these clerks.

So you won’t know the price on the bill?

I am the bill!

Will you send Mr Coppola a holiday postcard with your face on it?

I keep in better touch with Val Kilmer. I’d probably write something that he couldn’t find on Google. To make it more timeless.


Dan Deacon plays on 30 May at Trouw de Verdieping in Amsterdam. The show is free for Subbacultcha! members.